Introduction to Swedish/Alphabet



The Swedish alphabet contains 29 letters:

The Swedish alphabet.

Aa Bb Cc Dd Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv Ww Xx Yy Zz Åå Ää Öö

The last three letters, Å, Ä, and Ö, are regarded as distinct letters, separate from A and O. Whereas in English you might use the term "A - Z", in Swedish it would be "A - Ö". Unlike in English, Y is always a vowel, except in the case of some loanwords. W has not been included in the Swedish alphabet for a long time, but since 2006 the Swedish Academy considers W as a separate letter. However, this is not fully accepted in dictionaries and other instances yet.

The VowelsEdit

Vowels are divided into hard and soft vowels. When reading new Swedish words you should pay attention to whether the vowels are short or long. Each vowel has both a long and a short phonetic variant. The basic rule is that a vowel is short if it is followed by more than one consonant.

Long VowelsEdit

Phoneme
(IPA)
Pronunciation sample, phonemic transcription and translation
  listen  sil, /siːl/, "sieve"
  listen  hel, /heːl/, "whole"
ɛː   listen  häl, /hɛːl/, "heel"
ɑː   listen  mat, /mɑːt/, "food"
  listen  mål, /moːl/, "goal"
  listen  bot, /buːt/, "penance"
ʉ̟ː   listen  ful, /fʉ̟ːl/, "ugly"
  listen  syl, /syːl/, "awl"
øː   listen  nöt, /nøːt/, "nut"

Short VowelsEdit

Phoneme
(IPA)
Pronunciation sample, phonemic transcription and translation
ɪ   listen  sill, /sɪl/, "herring"
ɛ   listen  häll, /hɛl/, "flat rock"
a   listen  matt, /mat/, "listless; matte"
ɔ   listen  moll, /mɔl/, "minor" (music)
ʊ   listen  bott, /bʊt/, "lived" (perfect tense)
ɵ   listen  full, /fɵl/, "full"
ʏ   listen  syll, /sʏl/, "sleeper" (railroad)
œ   listen  nött, /nœt/, "worn"

The ConsonantsEdit

Most consonants can be doubled. The letter k can be doubled with c (like in rock n' roll.) The consonant c sounds like s when not combined with k (like the first c in bicycle). The letters z, q, and w are very uncommon but are used in family and company names. The letter m is not doubled at end of words with two exceptions, lamm and damm.

Examples of words with doubled consonants:

flabb, ledd, klaff, ragg, back, pall, damm, spinn, kupp, pirr, triss, titt

Initial g and k
If the first letter in a word is g and if the next letter is a soft vowel then the g is pronounced as a j .
If the first letter in a word is k and if the next letter is a soft vowel then the k is pronounced as an sh .

PlosivesEdit

Phoneme
(IPA)
Pronunciation sample, phonemic transcription and translation
p   listen  pol, /puːl/, "pole" (of axis)
b   listen  bok, /buːk/, "book"
t   listen  tok, /tuːk/, "fool"
d   listen  dop, /duːp/, "christening"
k   listen  kon, /kuːn/, "cone"
ɡ   listen  god, /ɡuːd/, "good"

FricativeEdit

Phoneme
(IPA)
Pronunciation sample, phonemic transcription and translation
f   listen  fot, /fuːt/, "foot"
v   listen  våt, /voːt/, "wet"
s   listen  sot, /suːt/, "soot"
ɧ   listen  sjok, /ɧuːk/, "chunk"
ɕ   listen  kjol, /ɕuːl/, "skirt"
j   listen  jord, /juːrd/, "soil, earth"
h   listen  hot, /huːt/, "threat"

/r/ and Retroflex AssimilationsEdit

Phoneme
(IPA)
Pronunciation sample, phonemic transcription and translation
r   listen  rov, /ruːv/, "prey; loot"

LateralsEdit

Phoneme
(IPA)
Pronunciation sample, phonemic transcription and translation
l   listen  lov, /luːv/, "tack (sailing maneuver)"

NasalsEdit

Phoneme
(IPA)
Pronunciation sample, phonemic transcription and translation
m   listen  mod, /muːd/, "courage"
n   listen  nod, /nuːd/, "node"
ŋ   listen  lång, /lɔŋ/, "long"

StressEdit

Normally the stress is put on the first vowel. The tonality is more important in Swedish.

TonalityEdit

Both nita and niten have the stress on the vowel i. However, the tonality differs. This is often a situational difference that varies from one word to the next. For more information on tone you can try the Wikipedia article on tone.

Typing Special CharactersEdit

 
The light house "Långe Jan" at the south end of Öland island.

On a PC:

Alt+0229 = å
Alt+0197 = Å
Alt+0228 = ä
Alt+0196 = Ä
Alt+0246 = ö
Alt+0214 = Ö

On a Mac:

Option+a = å
Option+A = Å
Option+u to get ¨ then type a = ä
Option+u to get ¨ then type A = Ä
Option+u to get ¨ then type o = ö
Option+u to get ¨ then type O = Ö

If you don't manage to get these characters, the standard way is to substitute å with aa, ä with ae, and ö with oe.

More Information on PronunciationEdit

For more detailed information on Swedish pronunciations read the Wikipedia article on Swedish phonology.

ExerciseEdit

Pronounce the following Swedish words.

1. skal, sno, tur, kår, ven, mil, syl, när, bör

2. stall, stopp, lupp, sådd, ett, stins, skyll, ärr, börs

3. vara, bliva, heta, kallas, äta, dricka, festa, leka

4. bilen, vägen, äpplet, trädet, smaken, tiken

5. kal, kotte, kul, kål, gam, gott, gurka, gås

6. ge, gick, gylf, Gävle, gök, kedja, kil, kyl, käk, kök